"Your table will be ready in about 45 minutes. If you'd like to go to a nearby bar, we can call your cell when it's ready."
I scribbled my cell phone number on a pad of paper and Will and I stepped out into the breezy September air. I looked at him out of the corner of my eye. He was dressed in black slacks, a black button up shirt, and a dark blue tie. He was all dressed up for our Birthday dinner, and he looked great. As we ran across the street hand-in-hand I regretted wearing heels, but they made my calves look nice in my slinky black dress.
We chose the first bar we came across, an old diner-type bar. We grabbed two stools and ordered beers. The scene there made me feel like we should be ordering milkshakes or root-beer floats.
"So, there's something I wanted to talk to you about," Will said, turning in his stool to face me. A knot started forming in the pit of my stomach. It couldn't be good. Either he was going to ask me to commit or he was going to break it off with me. Or, considering we were dressed nice and it was a special occasion, he was going to get down on one knee right then and there and propose. There wasn't one of those three scenarios I wanted to hear. I wanted to beg him, "Will, not now. Not here." But I knew there wasn't anywhere I wanted to have that conversation, so the bar at the diner was just going to have to be good enough.
"Yes?" I said with a false chipper voice. Maybe if he saw how peppy I was he wouldn't want to kill the mood with a serious talk. Please don't ruin our birthday dinner. Please don't ruin our birthday dinner.
"Well, we talk on the phone every day. And we obviously like each other..."
The knot in my stomach grew bigger and bigger. I was half expecting an alien hand to claw it's way out of my stomach and punch Will for bringing this up.
"Right," I said, staring into my beer bottle, hoping to find a distraction in the bubbles.
"So, it just makes sense that we should be together. Committed."
Oh, the dreaded C-word. I didn't want to look at him for fear that he was about to surprise me with another ring box. He sounded so sure of himself. So sure of his feelings for me. His voice was dripping with hope. A hope that I'd been feeling the same way. I didn't want to do this again. I didn't want to break his heart all over again. His beaten and bruised heart couldn't go through that again. But I couldn't pretend for his heart's sake. I wished I could. Oh, how I wished I could.
I looked up from my beer bubbles and half turned in my chair to face him. The least I could do was give him eye contact while I tore his generous heart out though his crisp black shirt and stabbed it with my 3-inch heel.
"Will, you live in Oklahoma. I just moved to New York City. I mean, good Lord, we're only 22 years old! That's way too young to be tied down. I just can't do that. Not right now. I need to experience this," I said, waving my arm out, gesturing to the busy street through the window behind us.
"Then what am I even doing here?!" His outdoor voice bounced off the tile floor. He threw his napkin on the bar in frustration. No one turned and looked our way. A couple-fight was an everyday occurrence in the city.
"You're here celebrating with me. It's our birthdays and you're my best friend. You know I can't do long distance. We've talked about this," I said, reaching for his arm to comfort him but he pulled away.
Of course the rooftop sex didn't exactly scream "Best Friends."
"I can't believe I came all this way for this."
He threw a $20 down on the table and said, "Come on, our table's probably ready."
"Will, wait!" I said, as he strolled through the door without me. I felt my eyes start to sting and I knew tears were on their way. I grabbed my purse and followed him outside.
"Will! You can't be mad at me for this! You broke up with me, remember? How am I supposed to commit to you from New York when we couldn't even handle a title on this when we lived in the same city?!" Tears were streaming down my face now, warm and wet. I was sure my makeup had gone to shit. Taxis sped past us. Other couples dressed up and holding hands walked past us pretending they didn't see a hysterically crying girl on the sidewalk.
Will stopped a few feet in front of me and put his hands on his head.
"Please don't cry," he said, turning to me.
"Will, what do you want me to do?? You can't just fly up here and demand this! That's not fair!" I tried to wipe my tears but it was pointless.
He closed the space between us and wrapped me in a hug. I cried into his nice shirt and he ran his hand through my hair.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make you cry. I shouldn't force this on you. We can take some time to think about it. Now let's cheer up and go enjoy our birthday dinner."
He pulled away and tried to help me brush the tears off my cheeks. I knew my eyes were probably rimmed in red and my neck and cheeks were splotchy. So much for trying to look nice for our birthday dinner.
We ate our Spanish tapas with minimal conversation. He was hurt and frustrated and I was just flat-out frustrated. The waitress eyed me with concern, wondering if maybe I was the victim of an abusive relationship. Little did she know, I was the abuser. I was the heartbreaker. Will was the victim.